The Best Baby Names From The 1920s

Pay homage to history with these baby names

1920s baby names in all of their art deco glory
1920s baby names in all of their art deco glory
 

The 1920s are happening, and they're never going to stop. I'm sorry, but we've hit that point in history where, a decade nearly 100 years in the past, is one of the most influential eras from which to draw. We want the haircuts, the costumes, the literature — all of it. And if you're nodding along in agreement, then this particular post is just for you.

While you're hardly going to name your child "Gatsby" (I mean, maybe you are — who am I to tell you otherwise?), there are more than a few other choices to draw from in terms of '20s-oriented baby names. That's where the following ten come in. Because while repeated viewings of Midnight in Paris may offer some inspiration, the Internet will make up for the rest.

1. Zelda
Zelda Fitzgerald may get roped in as "F Scott's wife," but the complicated, interesting, and often-misunderstood woman was actually a bankable author in her own right; going on to inspire and impress her husband regularly with her literary talents. While history's lack of mental health options ended up failing her, you can't help but wonder what else she could've accomplished had she been given the proper tools. (Likely, even more brilliant works.)

2. Duke
Jazz musician Duke Ellington got his start in 1920s clubs, and without him, we wouldn't have what we consider popular music now. (I mean, there's a reason Christian Bale and Amy Adams' American Hustle characters freak out about him so much — jazz birthed everything, ever.) What's more is that Duke helped create jazz as we know it, which means he's ultimately responsible for everything from rock 'n roll to pop to hip-hop to, well, more jazz. (All hail.)

3. Mary
Not only was "Mary" the most popular name of the 1920s (several Internet surveys have proven so — nobody test me), it was the name of Canada's own Mary Pickford, actress and filmmaker who broke major ground in an industry completely dominated by men. Her contemporaries? Flapper queen Clara Bow and longtime screen queen Gloria Swanson. Now that's a movie begging to be made.

4. Ernest
Ernest Hemingway (as a person) may have slowly deteriorated as the 20th century progressed, but his contributions to literature and the art scene of the 1920s is incomparable. The Sun Also Rises changed the novel-writing game, and because of his work, Ernest went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in the 1950s. Understandably so.

5. McCoy
Frankly, it wouldn't be a '20s post without a little era slang: the "real McCoy" meant authenticity — it meant you weren't some substitute; that you had real, actual, legitimate clout. Which is why it's even better that it's not meant only for one gender or another.

6. Josephine
While Duke Ellington perfected the jazz sound, Josephine Baker did the same for pop culture as a whole. The American-turned-French singer, dancer, and actor owned the entertainment circuit of the era, then became an active civil rights crusader as time went on, eventually refusing to perform to segregated audiences — oh, after she participated in the French Resistance during WWII. We should all just change our names to "Josephine."

7. Gerswhin
While "George" — Gerswhin's first name — is seeing a revival thanks to Kate and William's prince, "Gerswhin" sets itself apart by clearly aligning itself with Broadway. 1928's An American in Paris saw compositions by Gerswhin, as did 1924's Rhapsody in Blue. Since, his music has been covered by greats in jazz and theatre, and anyone who's heard it isn't surprised.

8. Babe
It was in the 1920s that Babe Ruth became the King of New York thanks to his remarkable turn on the New York Yankees, so frankly, it'd be a crime against very cool names and baseball not to include him in this round-up.

9. Charles
First, the 1920s saw the name in droves, in terms of famous people: Charlie Chaplan and Charles Lindbergh were beyond important figures in the era. Then, the name was (and still is) relatively classic and safe — so much so that it was the fifth most-popular name in the decade. (Or, just go for "Chaplan" and honour the gods of comedy, forever.)

10. Clara
An actress who became Hollywood's first sex symbol, Clara Bow refused to resign herself to gender norms, and embraced the flapper movement proudly — setting other women free in the process. More than just an actress, always. (You go, Clara.)

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